How Far Do You Have to Walk to Access Red Rocks Amphitheater?

Colorado summer is in full swing! As locals, we know the summer can linger into mid-fall, and we have plenty of more sunshine to come. Many of us here take advantage of the gorgeous weather by hiking, biking, fishing, tubing, enjoying live music, and countless other outdoor activities. Even non Colorado residents can recognize how lucky we are to have great natural assets and frequently visit our colorful state to take advantage of many of these outdoor activities. As far as enjoying live music goes, Denver is home to one of the nation’s best parks and music venues, Red Rocks Amphitheater, in Morrison, CO.

Similar to the other outdoor activities in Colorado, accessibility can always be a challenge. With an estimated 750,000 visitors trekking to Red Rocks each year (source: Denver Post), visitors wonder how they are going to access the amphitheater and commonly ask questions like “Where is the best place to park?” and “Which is the best path to take into the venue?”

A 3D model created in Surfer of Red Rocks amphitheater using LiDAR and aerial imagery download from the USGS
A 3D model created in Surfer of Red Rocks amphitheater using LiDAR and aerial imagery download from the USGS.
3D model of the South Parking Lot at Red Rocks Amphitheatre created in Surfer
A 3D view of the Red Rocks Amphitheater from the lower south parking lot. This is the farthest parking area from the venue.

This blog should be a resource to help anyone who visits this beautiful landmark save their breath and take the shortest path in.

To create a 3D model of Red Rocks I began by gathering data from USGS’s Earth Explorer website . Within the venue, there are six different locations where you can get dropped off or park your car. To answer which location was the least effort to enter I decided to compare the distances from each of these parking lots to the center seating area of the amphitheater.

Creating Elevation Profiles of Red Rocks Amphitheatre

To create the 3D model in Surfer, I downloaded a LiDAR dataset from the Earth Explorer site, gridded it, and created a color relief map.

A NAIP image of the amphitheater was then draped over the model to give it a realistic appearance and to clearly identify the parking lots and paths into the venue. After the model was created, Surfer’s Profile tool was ideal to measure how much vertical and linear distance there is between the 6 different parking lots and the center of the amphitheater. You can see the model and profile comparisons to the right.

Elevation profile map of the entrances to Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado

I was able to easily compare the routes into the venue from all five different parking lots using the model above. As you can see, the profile tool was able to depict the distance to travel for the comparison, but more importantly, the amount of vertical distance a visitor must trek to get into the venue. This is especially important for visitors from sea level.

Based on these findings, if you park in the Lower South parking lot you will have by far the furthest distance and most vertical to travel and enter the amphitheater. Compare this with parking in the Upper North parking lot, where the elevation profile shows you will have a much shorter travel time into the venue.

Hopefully this blog can serve as a resource the next time you are trying to decide where to park or get dropped off at Red Rocks park! If you’d like my advice, arrive early and park in the Upper North Lot. Based on this map it is the least effort, and take my word… it has the best tailgate.

Share this post